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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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050113MURDER.jpg

MURDER SCENE--Marinette County Coroner George Smith and Assistant Chief Jarod Phillips of the Peshtigo Police Department are pictured on the front steps going over details at the home at 526 Thompson St. in which Patricia Waschbisch was murdered on Sunday, April 28. Also pictured are Mark and John Berth of Berth & Rosenthal Funeral Home as they prepare to remove the Waschbisch body from the residence. Brent Kaempf is alleged to have killed Waschbisch.

Suspect Will Face Homicide Charges In Marinette County

“Once again, this is a sad day in our county,” Marinette County Sheriff Jerry Sauve said at the start of a brief press conference on Tuesday, April 30. The gathering was called to share information on the stabbing death of Trish Waschbisch, 45, late Saturday, April 27 or early Sunday, April 28 in her home at 526 Thompson Street, Peshtigo.

Her body was found by her 13-year-old daughter when friends Nick Chmela and Kelly Swanson brought her home at about 7 p.m. Sunday from an overnight stay at their home.

The suspect, Waschbisch’s long-time boyfriend Brent Kaempf, 48, also of Peshtigo, was apprehended by Wauwatosa police at about 3:30 a.m. Monday, April 29 and was held in jail there until Tuesday afternoon, when he was picked up by Marinette county officers and transported to the Marinette County Jail.

Charges of First Degree Homicide are expected to be filed later today, according to District Attorney Allen Brey. Brey expects the initial appearance to be on Monday, May 6, but it could be as early as Thursday or Friday.

Kaempf was detained in Wauwatosa at 3:30 a.m. Monday morning, based on an all points bulletin issued by the Peshtigo Police Department. He was found in an auto parts store parking lot sleeping. The officer who found him noticed an injury to his wrist and took him to a hospital for observation. At the hospital, two agents from the Department of Criminal Investigation questioned him and asked him why he was in town.

Kaempf told the officers he was in town because he ran away from home, according to reports. Investigators asked why he had run away from home, and Kaempf told them it was because he had killed his girl friend with a knife. When asked who his girl friend was, Kaempf told them it was Trish Waschbisch, who lived in the City of Peshtigo.

The two had reportedly had a long-term relationship, and it included at least a bit of a history of violence. According to court records, in 2010 Waschbisch filed a temporary restraining order against Kaempf after he hit her in the face. Then two months later she asked that the order be dismissed.

The Peshtigo Times learned that on Saturday Nick Chmela and Kelly Swanson had called the Waschbisch home to see if Alexis, the daughter of Waschbisch, wanted to come to their home near the Blue Ribbon Casino for a bonfire.

Alexis went there and decided to stay over night. The next day they tried calling and texting Trish but there was no answer, so they went to the residence. They found Trish’s vehicle outside and the doors to the house were open. The daughter then went into the house and discovered her mother. Nick Chmela called 911 and Peshtigo Police arrived at the scene at about 7:15 p.m.

Investigating at the scene were officers from Peshtigo Police Department, Marinette County Sheriff’s Department, the Wisconsin State Crime Lab, the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigations, Marinette County District Attorney’s office and Coroner George Smith. Search warrants were issued Sunday night for the Waschbisch home and Kaempf’s cell phone.

Peshtigo Fire Department personnel worked the perimeters of the murder scene throughout the night and into the morning on Monday, keeping the area secure and assisting investigators.

Almost everyone involved in the murder investigation had worked closely with the victim in her capacity as Interim Director and Legal Advocate for Rainbow House Domestic Abuse Services, Inc., which provides services for abused families and runs a shelter facility in Marinette for domestic violence victims.

The atmosphere during the press conference Tuesday in the large conference room at the Marinette County Law Enforcement Center on Tuesday, April 30 was somber, intense, and sad...In sharp contrast to a week earlier, when Waschbisch was being honored in the same room for her work at Rainbow House.

“Our sincere condolences go out to her family,” Marinette County Sheriff Jerry Sauve declared at the start of Tuesday’s press conference. “It is tragically ironic that one week ago today, in this very room, she was given a proclamation for her tireless efforts on behalf of victims of domestic violence...and now she is a victim of domestic violence.”

Sauve introduced press conference participants, which included Coroner George Smith, Brey, Assistant District Attorney Kent Hoffman, Peshtigo Police Chief Kent Kline, and Peter Thielen from the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation. He said they all had worked with Waschbisch at various times during her years at Rainbow House.

Kline also expressed sympathy for Waschbisch’s family and her co-workers.

Kline reported that his department was putting together a crime complaint that should lead to a Phase Four Homicide determination, and reported that Kaempf, the suspect, had been taken into custody and was being held in Marinette County.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the Waschbisch family,” Hoffman declared. Waschbisch was described as being, “very dedicated and relentless in her support for victims of domestic violence.” Hoffman said he expected criminal complaints to go out on Wednesday, but cautioned against rash conclusions. “I must state that any charges are merely accusations and we must assume innocence until he is proven guilty.”

Thielen reported that Kaempf was cooperative when he was picked up by the Wauwatosa officers, and said his swift apprehension was a credit to cooperation between state and local investigators,but the officer was just doing his job when the first contact was made.

Smith reported that an autopsy was conducted at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Green Bay on Monday. Autopsy report was that the woman died of several stab wounds from a kitchen knife, which Smith described as “sharp force injuries.”

Questions were allowed at the half hour press conference but there were few answers.

Brey assured everyone the community is safe. “There probably will always be situations in a community in which one or more individuals want to harm another person. This was one of those situations,” Brey said. “This is a terrible tragedy, but it’s not like the situation in Boston a couple of weeks ago.”

“As the press conference broke up, Sauve asked the media to ease up on the family. “Allow her family... the real victims of this horrible crime...time to grieve,” he urged.

The family includes her daughter, Alexis M. Waschbisch, at home, a son, Justin Bunker of Peshtigo, parents Howard and Patricia Skarban of Coleman, a brother, John Skarban of Lena, and grandmother Marge Hornak of Warrens, WI. Funeral services will be at 3 p.m. Friday at Rhodes-Charapata Funeral Home in Coleman.


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841 Maple St
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Peshtigo, WI 54157
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